Julia Child’s Coq Au Vin is undeniably the best. This recipe sticks very much to the original, only minorly changing the ingredients and cooking method to bring it in line with the times. While Coq au Vin (or chicken in wine) might sound fancy, it is really just a simple French chicken stew that anyone can master. Don’t be intimidated, this recipe is very easy to follow.
Shortly after starting this blog, I was asked to participate in a celebration of Julia Child’s 100th birthday. Participating bloggers were given her most famous recipes to make and share. It was the first time I had made coq au vin.
Since then I’ve made it countless times. It’s a simple recipe that takes a bit of time and is 100% worth it. I’ve made a few very minor changes to the recipe to reflect modern cooking and diets.
What makes this coq au vin special?
- Even though this coq au vin is easier to make and uses more familiar ingredients, it is every bit as rich delicious as the original.
- The chicken is first marinated in the wine (while you prep the other ingredients) which gives the chicken so much flavor.
- I use chicken thighs and drumsticks. The original Julia Child’s recipe calls for cutting up your own chicken. Most of us aren’t going to do that so using cuts that are familiar and widely available makes this recipe more approachable without sacrificing flavor.
- I sprinkle the cooked bacon on top after the dish is cooked as I love that it remains crunchy. Bacon that’s soggy from cooking in a sauce is not my favorite.
- The original recipe calls for a tomato, but I’m assuming Julia must have meant a summer sun-ripened tomato. Our grocery store tomatoes are sad in comparison. I use some tomato paste, which has a strong tomato flavor and can be caramelized a little to add some sweetness.
- Adding carrots, which are not in the original recipe, make this more of a complete meal.
- Traditional coq au vin is thickened with butter and flour (beurre manie), but that doesn’t work with many modern diets. I’ve given options for traditional, paleo, gluten-free, and dairy-free beurre manie so you can choose the option that works best for you. I always go for the paleo version.
What to serve with Coq au Vin?
My personal favorite is to serve this with buttery mashed potatoes and a green salad. The gravy is so good poured over potatoes and the green salad brings a little freshness to the plate. Here are some other ideas:
- Roasted root vegetables.
- Braised sturdy greens … think collard, kale, or swiss chard
- Crusty buttered bread for mopping up all the gravy.
- Wild rice.
- Roasted cauliflower.
- Green beans or asparagus.
And for dessert, try Julia Child’s Chocolate Mousse. It’s delicious!
What wine do you use in coq au vin?
Traditionally, coq au vin is made with a Burgundy wine, like a pinot noir. I’ve used lighter reds like Tempranillo and Gamay Noir successfully. I think the most important thing is that you like the wine you use. The wine adds a lot of flavor to the dish so make sure it’s one you enjoy drinking!
White wine can also be used to make coq au vin blanc. Steer clear of sweet white wines. A Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc works well.
If you follow a paleo diet, you’re probably concerned about all the additives in mass-produced wine. One company that curates a collection of clean crafted wines is Scout and Cellar. They deliver to most of continental US and are worth checking out.
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Julia Child's Coq Au Vin is undeniably the best. This recipe sticks very much to the original, only minorly changing the ingredients and cooking method to bring it in line with the times. While Coq au Vin (or chicken in wine) might sound fancy, it is really just a simple French chicken stew that anyone can master. Don't be intimidated, this recipe is very easy to follow.
- 4 chicken thighs
- 4 chicken drumsticks
- 1 1/2 cups red wine
- 1 cup chicken stock
- Optional: 1/4 cup brandy
- 3 strips of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 medium onion, quartered then thinly sliced
- 4 medium carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 8 ounces mushrooms, thickly sliced
- 8 ounces pearl onions, peeled
- Beurre manie (see notes for the options)
- Place the chicken thighs and drumsticks in a medium-sized bowl and pour the wine, chicken stock, and (if using) the brandy over the top. Prep the vegetables.
- Add the bacon to a large skillet or braiser over medium-high heat. Cook until the bacon is crispy, about 8 minutes, then remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon.
- Remove the chicken from the wine marinade (save the wine) and dry the chicken with paper towels. Working in 2 batches if needed, place the chicken in the pan, skin side down. Sear until it is golden on both sides (about 5 minutes each side) then remove the chicken from the pan. Pour all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon/chicken oil into a heatproof dish and set it aside.
- Add the sliced onion and carrots to the pan and let them cook until the onion is golden brown, about 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and let it cook for 1 minute.
- Push the vegetables to the side of the pan and add the tomato paste. Cook the tomato paste until it is fragrant and begins to darken. Pour the reserved wine marinade into the pan, scraping the bottom to remove any stuck on bits.
- Nestle the chicken into the pan and sprinkle the thyme over top. Cover the pot, turn the heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Pour 1 tablespoon of the reserved oil (or use olive oil) into a large skillet. Add the mushrooms and saute over medium-high heat until brown, about 10 minutes.
- Add the pearl onions to the pot with the chicken and cook for 10 minutes more.
- In a small bowl mix together your choice of beurre manie. Remove the chicken from the pan then add the beurre manie. Stir it into the sauce and let it thicken. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add the chicken back into the pan and top with the cooked bacon and mushrooms. Sprinkle with a little fresh thyme.
Beurre manie options:
- Traditional beurre manie: 2 tablespoons flour + 2 tablespoons softened butter
- Paleo and gluten-free beurre manie: 2 tablespoons tapioca starch + 1 tablespoon softened butter
- Dairy-free beurre manie: 2 tablespoons flour + 2 tablespoons dairy-free margarine
Excerpted from The Way to Cook by Julia Child. Copyright © 1989 by Julia Child. Reprinted with permission from the publisher Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.